It's a Jungle Out There

Trip Start Apr 08, 2007
Trip End Dec 22, 2007

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Flag of Costa Rica  ,
Wednesday, November 28, 2007

24th October - 22nd November

We arrived late Wednesday night in San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica. We spent 2 nights there before catching a mini van to Playa Hermosa. On the way down to Hermosa we stopped at a viewing platform that overlooked a lush green jungle valley. The calls from many different birds, monkeys and frogs told us straight away that we had arrived in Costa Rica. Once we dropped down from the mountain range we stopped at Crocodile Bridge. It is home to 20-30 massive crocodiles that bask on the river bank.

We arrived at Hotel Las Olas in Playa Hermosa. Our room was on the second storey. It had no glass windows, just fly screens. Our balcony overlooked the surf. Within 30 minutes I was waxing my board and straight out the front for a surf. We had booked our room for 5 nights but ended up staying two weeks.

I surfed most mornings early in waves ranging from 3 - 6 foot while Mandy videoed or took photos, before a mid morning breakfast of bacon, eggs, fruit smoothies, and banana pancakes. Mmmmmmm. Some days we'd walk the beach, on others we'd lounge by the pool reading, swimming and relaxing. We spent many hours in the hammock on our balcony that overlooked the surf. Late afternoon the waves cleaned up again so the last few hours until dark I was back out there. We ate mainly at the restaurant at Las Olas, BBQ ribs, coconut encrusted mahi mahi, and lime and garlic pork chops and more. We also managed to find the local pizza restaurant, which made pretty good Pizzas...we still love pizzas.

One day we got energetic and hiked up a steep dirt road into the jungle. We were told to look for a path off to the left that wound through the jungle, but we couldn't find it. What we did find was a large padlocked gate with a hole just big enough for us to squeeze through, well I only just squeezed through it, Mandy made it quite comfortably. Once through, the path took us deep into the jungle. Here we saw our first sighting of White Faced Monkeys climbing and playing in the trees above us, but no toucans yet.

After two weeks in Hermosa we felt we needed to see some more of the country, so we packed up our day packs, stored our big packs at Las Olas, and drove down to Quepos, a small town an hour south of Hermosa. Quepos we used as our base for our visit to Manuel Antonio National Park. While in Quepos we continued our search for a head cleaning tape for our video camera. We already looked everywhere in Jaco (near Hermosa) to no avail, and it was the same case in Quepos, so our video camera remained out of action for the majority of our time in Costa Rica.

Manuel Antonio National Park is situated just south of Quepos. The road to the entrance is a narrow, steep road with spectacular views of the jungle and the Pacific Ocean. To enter the park you have to cross a small creek about 3 metres wide. Shoes off, cross the creek, shoes back on. There are a number of jungle backed beaches in the national park that are home to more white faced monkeys that are very good at stealing visitors lunches from there bags when they are swimming or not paying attention. They seem to have a plan as a few come down out of the trees to distract people and then the others sneak down to go through the bags when no-ones looking. We also saw more iguanas, a racoon, a rat looking thing, and a sloth. Sloths are cool! Still no toucans though.

We left Quepos to head for another beach called Esterillos where we stayed at the Pelican Beach Hotel. There we spent a couple of relaxing days surfing and making friends with other travellers, Chris and Ellie from London, Sofia and Harvey from Majorca, and Sarah and Chip from Colorado. The waves were quite small but still fun and there was hardly anyone out. We also enjoyed some of the best sunsets of the trip here, the food was great as well. Still no toucans! No video head cleaner either... if you come to Costa Rica bring one with you as they just don't sell them here.

We headed "home" to Las Olas for our last 6 nights to enjoy Aaron's cooking and the extra power of the waves of Playa Hermosa. Unfortunately, the swell was dying here too, with only small weak waves. Cameron (part owner of Las Olas) and Christian (employee of the month) took us surfing down the beach further where it picks up more swell. There is a turtle conservation farm where we surfed and our visit coincided with the release of over one hundred hatchlings while we surfed. Mandy watched on and took photos of the little fellas making their way across the beach to the water. About fifteen minutes later all these little heads started popping up around us out in the surf. They were everywhere. One swam up to me so I put him on my surfboard to give him a rest. Turtles are cooler!

There are quite a few Americans that live in Costa Rica. One of them, Joey, told us about a waterfall nearby. He gave us some directions and we were off. One of the landmarks he said to look out for was to turn left into the road with a row of palm trees on either side. We found them and started to make our way down the road when Mandy stopped and whispered urgently, "Toucan right there". Sitting in the palm tree straight above no more than twenty feet above us was our first toucan. Toucans are the coolest!!! We found the waterfall and climbed up to the top rockpool and went swimming in and behind the falling water.

Christian took us surfing the last two days of our stay with Bryan, a Floridian surfer down for a week. Bryan also bought a video camera and a head cleaner. Woohoo. Mandy videoed both surfs and to thank Bryan we made up a little video of our waves we shared together. We were both pretty stoked.

Our time in Costa Rica has flown by and we rank it as one of our favourite countries. Great food, friends, waves and wildlife. We hope to return again someday soon. Now for a slight change of pace, we're off to Las Vegas, Nevada USA....
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